Soccer

Ferguson looks for one last win in final game as manager

{eot}
The Canadian Press
5/17/2013 9:54:51 AM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

CARRINGTON, England -- Alex Ferguson is looking forward to a retired life of luxury holidays, watching horse racing, enjoying good wines and perhaps studying languages.

Before that, though, there's one final challenge to overcome -- beating West Bromwich Albion on Sunday in his 1,500th and last game as Manchester United manager.

"One thousand five hundred matches -- it's quite incredible," Ferguson said Friday, shaking his head in wonder at his own longevity.

The end of the road in Ferguson's 39-year coaching career comes at The Hawthorns, an unassuming stadium in central England.

He has already had one emotional farewell -- at Old Trafford on Sunday after a 2-1 win over Swansea that marked his final home match as United manager. On that occasion, there was a guard of honour, a five-minute speech to fans and relentless waving of red flags by United supporters who can't quite believe their manager of nearly 27 years is stepping aside. There's also been United's trophy parade through the streets of Manchester on Monday, when tens of thousands of people came out in force for one more glimpse of the legendary man and his Premier League title-winners.

This weekend's match promises to be another tear-jerker, although all Ferguson wants is a win. It's typical of him.

"Every team wants to win their last home game -- that's a fact of life," said Ferguson, who was named the Premier League's manager of the year on Friday. "And also I want to win this one more than last week's even."

His coaching life began in 1974, with unheralded East Stirlingshire in the Scottish lower leagues. Ferguson remembers having "eight players and no goalkeeper." Now he has six goalkeepers and around 100 players to oversee.

"It's a different life," Ferguson acknowledged. "Change is inevitable -- you have to manage that.

"There have been big changes in this club in terms of number of staff, sports science, modern technology has come into it. When I started as a manager there were no agents, media was different then too. ... The changes are all there, integrated over a long period. But I don't think I've changed much."

Things are set to change in Ferguson's life, however. No more getting up in the early hours and being the first person into Carrington, United's vast and impressive training complex in west Manchester. No more picking teams, coaching world-class players, doing draining media duties.

But that doesn't mean he'll be enjoying regular 10-hour sleep-ins, as he did after the parade on Monday.

"It's the first time in my life that I've had 10 hours' sleep -- (wife) Cathy kept making sounds round about me," Ferguson said. "I think she was just checking to see if I was alive."

Ferguson's new life will likely see him having a closer involvement in his second passion of horse racing and spending more time with his family and on holiday, particularly to his favourite destinations of New York and the south of France. He's then scheduled to have hip surgery in July.

"I'm driven to take on some challenges and some other things right away," he said. "I've got a league managers meeting on Monday, I'm going to Newmarket (for horse racing) on Tuesday and Wednesday ... I'm going on holiday on June 4, it's the (English) Derby on June 1, I'm going on holiday for a month.

"Then I'm having the operation, then I've got the recuperation, then the season starts. So we're all right."

Ferguson, who will become a director at United once he passes on the reins to new manager David Moyes, made his decision to quit coaching last Christmas, in the wake of the death of his wife's sister. He said Friday he has no regrets, not even after the dejection he felt following United's exit at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League in March, when winger Nani was controversially sent off with United ahead on aggregate in the two-legged match.

That denied Ferguson the chance of a third title in the Champions League, a competition in which he has always acknowledged United has underperformed for a club of its stature.

"I made my mind up long ago and that was it ... you can't be successful without disappointments, I think disappointments are good for you," Ferguson said. "It's a challenge to you and for your players' character to recover and I think we've been doing that over the years."

Ferguson was given a standing ovation at his final news conference Friday. He received a cake with a hairdryer made of icing on top, in reference to the so-called "hairdryer treatment" he dished out to players at halftime of matches.

That's just one of the many things Ferguson will be remembered for.

"The memories are all there, 26 years at Manchester United is fantastic," Ferguson said. "The day I came here was a privilege and the day I've left will be an honour. I'm lucky to have been here that long."



Podcasts

TSN FC with Jason de Vos & Kristian Jack - October 27

Jason de Vos & Kristian Jack look ahead to the Whitecaps playoff match against Dallas, chat BPL and break down another disaster PR week for Toronto FC

TSN FC with Luke Wileman, Jason deVos & Kristian Jack - October 21

Luke, Jason & KJ look ahead to the final week of the MLS season, plus break down what went wrong at Toronto FC this year and if the club can recover.

TSN FC with Jason deVos & Kristian Jack - October 14

Kristian Jack and Jason deVos recap the disaster at Toronto FC this season and what needs to change, plus discuss the Whitecaps playoff run.


More Podcasts

Premier League Shows on TSN.ca

TSN.ca is Canada's exclusive home to highlight and feature programs from the Barclay's Premier League. Check out the latest programs on VOD below.


Net Busters

See all the goals, saves, bloopers and quotes from each week

- Episode 5

Previous episodes: 4 | 3 | 2 | 1


BPL Match Pack

Weekly match preview show using interesting facts & figures

- Week 5

TSN TweetBox
© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television